First Open Badminton Tournament

The World’s first open badminton tournament was played in the Royal Albert Hall, London between 19th and 22nd September 1979. It was sponsored by Friends’ Provident. 

The tournament marked the arrival of Open Badminton and gave players an opportunity to receive money for winning while playing badminton.   There had been much debate and heated argument for many years variously described as amateurism, professionalism and shamateurism, and it was at the International Badminton Federation’s AGM in May 1979 that revised rules were adopted, which would not harm aspirations for badminton to become an Olympic sport. The Badminton Association of England anticipating that Open Badminton was coming had already starting planning, and were able to stage the First Open Badminton Tournament with the co-operation of Friends’ Provident Life Office and the Royal Albert Hall only four months later.

 Four events were played, and twenty players were invited to participate. 

 Final Results:

 Men’s Singles:   Prakash Padakone beat Morten Frost Hansen 15-4, 15-11

 Ladies’ Singles: Lene Koppen (later Ropke) beat Gillian Gilks 12-10, 11-4

 Men’s Doubles: Thomas Kihlstrom and Bengt Froman beat

                            Mike Tredgett and Ray Stevens 18-16, 15-9

 Ladies’ Doubles: Nora Perry and Jane Webster beat

                             Yoshiko Yonekura and Atsuko Tokuda 15-2, 8-15, 15-10

Nora Perry/Jane Webster
Nora Perry and Jane Webster, winners of the Ladies' Doubles Picture by Louis Ross

Total prize money distributed in the Men’s Singles and Ladies’ Singles was £7,500 the winner receiving £3,000, while in the Men’s and Ladies’ Doubles prize money totalled £2,850 the winning pair sharing £1,500.   The tournament was played in groups of four, singles runners up received £3,000, the second in any group £750, third £500 and fourth £250.   In doubles runners up shared £1,500, third in group £400, and fourth £200.

All players were presented with Wedgwood Decanters.   

Friends’ Provident Life Office kindly donated a picture which is on display in the National Badminton Museum which was taken during the Final of the Men’s Singles between Prakash Padakone and Morten Frost Hansen. The umpire was Mike Gilks and the service judge Alan Jones.